Yes, There Is Such A Thing As 'Prepping Your Vagina' For Your Period
Women's Health

Yes, There Is Such A Thing As 'Prepping Your Vagina' For Your Period

I mean, maybe it’s just me, but when it comes to dealing with the monthly occurrence that is our periods, even though our vagina is very much involved, it’s rare that I will see content that is centered around that body part alone (relatively speaking). Sure, I read period hacks fairly often, but — what I mean is, where are the articles that are devoted to prepping and loving on your vagina and vulva specifically so that your period can be a lot less…intense?

A wise person once said that if you don’t like something, instead of complaining about it, why not do it yourself? Indeed…INDEED. So today, in honor of our vagina (and vulva) and all that it goes through every time our cycle rolls around, here are 15 ways that you can get it ready for the…well, inevitable.

1. Buy Unscented Pads or Tampons

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I’ve said before that I wish that I had known about menstrual cups YEARS ago. Since I’ve been using one, I’ve pretty much only relied on pads on my heaviest days (as backup). Yet even during my tampons (in my 20s) and pad seasons, I’ve avoided all of the scented stuff. My vagina is pretty sensitive all on its own, so fragrances and dyes don’t help it one bit. I’m not alone, either.

Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highly recommends that, if you want to keep your pH balance where it needs to be, the less chemicals on your menstrual products (and in your toilet paper), the better. A cheat sheet on how to find the best ones is to look for what is branded as being “organic.” You can also read up on some Black-owned menstrual care brands here and here.

2. “Trim the Lawn”

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When you’ve got a real bestie, you tend to talk about everything — TMI ish ‘n all. One of mine, we sometimes debate “to go bald or to keep” when it comes to pubic hair. Me? I’m Team Keep, although I do wax the “outer perimeters” and bikini line on a consistent basis.

I also try to keep things like a golf course (as one of my friends says. LOL); especially when my period is about to come on. Not only does it make me feel fresher, but it makes — let me pick something not super graphic — unraveling from any blood remnants so much easier to do every day (until my cycle ends).

3. Apply a Carrier Oil

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If your vulva (the outer part of your vagina) tends to feel either irritated (from the blood) or dry (if you do wear a menstrual cup or tampon), you can protect that part of your body by applying a carrier oil; especially at night (when you may not be changing your menstrual products as much).

If you’re concerned about which ones could end up doing more harm than good (as far as irritation is concerned), check out “So, Here Are The Carrier Oils That Will Take Your Sex Life To A Whole 'Nother Level” when you get a chance. It lists 12 oils that your vagina will embrace instead of repel. Personally, I’m a carrot seed oil fan; the Vitamin E in it is quite soothing.

4. Up Your Hydration

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How much blood you lose during your cycle kind of varies per person (although if you bleed through a tampon or pad every 1-2 hours or for more than seven days consistently, you may have what is called menorrhagia; you should definitely speak with your doctor). What does apply, across the board, is the loss of blood can lead to dehydration, intensified period cramps, bloating, and hella-fied fatigue.

So, when you feel PMS coming up, ramp up your water intake. It really does help to make all of these issues…less of one.

5. Take More Probiotics

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Something that typically happens right before your period begins is the progesterone levels in your body increase. That’s because, if you were to get pregnant, progesterone is what helps to prepare your uterine lining to support your pregnancy. When you don’t, in order for the lining to shed (which is basically what having a period is all about), progesterone levels must shift.

All of this “shifting” can result in you experiencing digestive issues — including (sometimes) constipation (or going to the bathroom more than usual). Not only that, but periods can also put quite a bit of stress on your body as well. Plus, yeast infections come when bad bacteria overtake good bacteria (and you can get a yeast infection at any time). Something that can help with all of this is taking a probiotic.

Honestly, since probiotics also help with improving your gut health, keeping you energized and in a good mood, and even reducing belly fat, it’s best to incorporate one into your daily health regimen. You can take probiotics in supplement form. Also, some foods that are high in probiotics include fermented ones like yogurt, pickles, and cheese.

6. Buy an OTC Antihistamine

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Now here’s something that I bet you didn’t have on your period prep bingo card. Did you know that if you take an over-the-counter antihistamine right before your cycle, it can somewhat decrease your blood flow during it? The thought process here is that the natural histamine that’s in your system will elevate your estrogen levels around the time of your cycle which can lead to more shedding of your uterine lining.

So, while tossin’ back Claritin pills like it’s candy isn’t recommended, having one or two on your heaviest day could provide a bit of (flow) relief.

7. Enjoy Some Phytoestrogens

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On the flip side, towards the end of your period, your estrogen levels will drop. Because low estrogen can result in symptoms like irritability, tender breasts, a lack of concentration, vaginal dryness, and even dry skin, it certainly can’t hurt to consume some phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen foods). Some of those would include dried fruits, berries, garlic, cabbage, collards, and wheat bran.

8. Eat Iron-Rich Foods

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There is a lot of iron in your red blood cells, and since blood is what you’re losing during your period, eating some iron-rich foods is highly recommended, too. In fact, you might be surprised to know that when you have an iron deficiency, it can affect your libido and lubrication levels and even your ability to have orgasms (chile). So yeah, definitely get that iron in. Some foods that are loaded with it include red meat, quinoa, beans, turkey, and broccoli.

9. Consume Less Sugar

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If you’ve ever wondered why you suddenly want to eat everything sweet that you can get your hands on right before and during your period — well, not only can you put that on your hormones fluctuating, but sweet and starchy foods can also give you a “hit” of serotonin which can happily put you in a happier state of mind. Problem is, that sugar can increase inflammation and inflammation can make period pain worse.

Not only that but speaking of yeast infections, if you’ve never had a yeast infection during your cycle, LUCKY YOU. Even though period blood alters the pH balance to where symptoms related to one can also decrease, the yeast will be waiting on you once the bleeding stops — and yeast literally feeds off of sugar. So yeah — junk food in moderation, please.

10. Load Up on Condoms

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If you’re down for period sex, there are a few reasons why it’s best to have your partner use a condom (if he’s not doing so already). One, the prostaglandins in your partner’s sperm/semen could actually trigger cramps (because some vaginas are very sensitive to them). Two, because sperm can live inside of your vagina for up to five days. If your cycle is all over the place…yes, you can get pregnant while on your period. And third, blood doesn’t stop STIs/STDs from being transmitted. So, if you are running low on rubbers, now would be the time to pick some up.

11. Prepare to Take Showers…Unless

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Even though a warm bath can actually help to soothe your menstrual cramps, if you’re a heavy bleeder, you’re gonna be attempting to wash yourself with blood in the water; that’s why showers are probably best (at least on your heavy days). There is a workaround for this: put a menstrual cup or tampon in before getting into the tub.

Showers are totally my thing, so this tip doesn’t apply to me personally. However, if you find showering to be kind of “blah,” check out “How To Turn Your Showers Into A Tranquil DIY Spa.” It might just make taking showers your favorite thing about having a period!

12. Avoid Hot Water. Kind Of.

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When it comes to this particular point, while drinking warm/hot water can help to soothe cramping, I’m still talking about bathing here. Honestly, hot water isn’t the best thing, period, because it tends to dehydrate your skin. The reason why I say “maybe” in this case is, that if you don’t have a heavy blood flow, you probably won’t care about how hot water increases blood circulation.

Oh, but if you do and you tend to shower/bathe in the morning — don’t be surprised if that awesome “hot time” leads to some unexpected leaks on the way to work. #justsayin’

13. Try Some Aquaphor

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If you don’t have a really strong blood flow, you’re a tampon wearer, and it can feel uncomfortable to put them in; applying something like Aquaphor around the entrance of your vagina can make tampons so much easier to insert. Something else that I like about this particular hack is Aquaphor is also a solid skin barrier if your vaginal fluids irritate your vulva during your special time of the month.

14. Do (More) Meditating

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Although many health experts are still looking into this, it would make sense that meditation would help with period discomfort. One, because it is a proven stress reliever, and two, there is plenty of data to support that it can help with reducing chronic pain. So, even if you don’t really feel like exercising while you’re on your period (although that can be beneficial for you, too), at least devote 5-20 minutes of meditating. You might not need (so much) Advil if you do.

15. Take Naps

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Taking naps leading into your cycle (and during it) not only helps in the fatigue department, but they also help to reduce stress (even if it’s only a 15-minute one). And since yes, you can absolutely stress your vagina out (check out “Ever Wonder If Your Vagina Is Stressed TF Out?”) and piss it off (check out “Welp. Here Are 15 Things That Could Be Pissing Your Vagina Off.”); especially during “that time of the month.”

So, don’t feel the least bit guilty about ramping up your nap schedule. You’re doing your vagina (and the rest of you) a ton of good if you do!

BONUS FOR AFTERWARDS: Wear Your Menstrual Cup an Extra Day

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Although I don’t smell anything while I’m on my period, the day right after the flow stops, it sometimes smells almost like…death. I looked up why, and it’s basically because there is still some tissue and bacteria that is still coming out. That’s also why my vulva and vaginal opening would be so irritated. I found a solution: I wear my menstrual cup on that day, too. That way, it can catch all of the drama, and I don’t have to suffer.


So, now that you know what your vagina needs for your period, doesn’t that make everything about how to approach your period seem so much better? Gee, I certainly hope so, sis. With all that you go through during that time of the month, you absolutely deserve it.

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